Picts: Alive and well today

My last few posts have been regarding such things as Scottish identity and the like, and for the most part I’ve been using language and culture to disprove the nonexistent divide among those Scots who have the Gaelic, and those who do not. But, after stumbling across the research below, but not ever having a use for it up until now, I thought I’d go ahead and share it with you all now, simply to help reinforce, and perhaps illustrate all that I have written about thus far.



Below are a few extracts taken from the website of the Telegraph newspaper, in regards to a genetic study of Scotland’s Y DNA (Inherited from the father) and it’s relation to the Picts and modern Scots, which had been conducted by a team of researchers including Dr. Jim Wilson, a lecturer at Edinburgh university. In quotations, are the extracts.

“TEN per cent of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts, according to a new discovery by a DNA project”

“Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist for the group, has found a new Y chromosome marker that arose among the direct ancestors of the Picts.

He tested the new “fatherline” in more than 3,000 British and Irish men and found an “amazing statistic” suggesting it was ten times more common in men with Scottish grandfathers, than in men with English grandfathers.

Ten per cent of the more than 1,000 Scottish men tested carry the R1b-S530 marker, while less than one per cent of Englishmen have it”

“Dr Wilson said the difference was “highly statistically signiflicant” and could be applied to the general population. About three per cent of men in Northern Ireland also carry the marker, but it was only seen once in more than 200 men from the Republic of Ireland.

The company, which maps ancestry for individuals by looking at their DNA, said it had so far found 170 men in Scotland carrying the Pictish marker.

Dr Wilson, a lecturer in genetics at Edinburgh University, said, “The finding just popped out of the analysis. While there have been hints of this from previous data, what was surprising was the really huge difference between England and Scotland”

Well, there we have it folks, genetic proof that we Scots, for the most part, are not the same as the English; straight from a geneticists mouth no less.

Picts battling Anglo-Saxons at the battle of Nechtan

Now, I haven’t been tested, nor have anyone I know, and so far only around one thousand Scottish men have been; so, if we were to test every ethnic Scotsman, then that percentage could only go up, and we could find 2 out of 5, 3 out of 5, or even 4 out of 5 Scots having Pictish DNA. And, if we look at the distribution, it is Scotland wide; neither located solely in the Highlands, nor the Lowlands. So, even if you identify as a ‘Highlander’, or a ‘Lowlander’, this DNA testing goes someway to proving that you are no more ethnic nor “true” a Scotsman than any other, as 10% of those 1,000 or so Scottish men tested, carry the R1b-S530 marker, whilst indecently, only 0.8% of Englishmen have it. So much for us ‘Lowlanders’ being a bunch of Anglo-Saxons then, eh…

Picts at bannockburn2
Picts battling Anglo-Saxons at Bannockburn

Anyway, what does that tell you, that a marker that is both very common, and widespread throughout Scotland, implying that it has been in Scotland for an incredibly long time (the R1b-S530 marker is estimated to be about 3,000 years old) yet it is incredibly rare in England? Well, that tells me that many ancient Scots didn’t wander very far over the last couple of thousand years, nor did they receive a huge amount of outside influence; otherwise, this lineage would be more common in England, and so this strongly suggests that this DNA marker was common among the ancestors of the Picts (Caledonians), who were the original inhabitants of Scotland, and one half of the Scottish people’s ancestry.

Pict jacobites3
Jacobite Picts battling Anglo-Saxons

Now, in Ireland, roughly 3% of Ulstermen carry this marker, which suggests that the presence of it in that area is down to the plantation of, again, Lowland Scots in the 16th/17th centuries. Think about that for a moment; if we Lowland Scots are so un-Scottish, then why would our DNA be about as Scottish as it gets? Yet, the marker was only seen once in over 200 men from the rest of the island of Ireland. This strongly indicates that the markers is restricted to, and a product of, Scotland; regardless of whether or not you live in the north, or the south of said country. Now, as I have no idea what language my Pictish ancestors spoke, I will continue to learn Scottish Gaelic, because the Gaels are also my ancestors; MacDonalds of Clanranald and the like. I’ am a Gael, a Scotsman, and Wallace and Bruce willing, part Pictish also. Just because I currently speak English, does not make me a Sassenach, does not make me any less Scottish, and it certainly does not take my Scottish heritage away from me.

Pict ww1
Picts celebrating New year during the Great War

Cinead MacAlpin.